News: architect Daniel Libeskind has refuted allegations that he was given an unfair advantage and received unlawful payments for designing a new building at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany, where he is also a part-time professor.
Leuphana University has threatened to take legal action against the publications and today issued a statement saying the allegations are "unsubstantiated".
"We categorically refute these allegations", said university spokesperson Henning Zühlsdorff. "Daniel Libeskind was not granted any unlawful advantages nor were competitors given a disadvantage."
"The allegations that are made through the press are allegations which we refute as false," Nina Libeskind told Dezeen. "The contracts between the university and professor Libeskind were contracts that were publicly registered and were passed through the parliament. How we could be any more official or legal than that, we don't know."
Daniel Libeskind was awarded the commission to design a new building for Leuphana University to house an auditorium, lecture theatres and student offices in 2007, around the same time he joined the university as a visiting professor.
Nina Libeskind told Dezeen that the program for the building was developed by Libeskind in a seminar with students at the university before plans were submitted to the ministry of science and culture. "There were a whole series of seminars which were conducted and on the basis of that, the building was designed," she explained. "As a professor working with the students, he designed the building... I think that's why it wasn't put out to tender."
A spokesperson from the European Union's anti-fraud office (OLAF) told Dezeen that the organisation has recommended action be taken by the commission directorate-general for regional policy and urban development (DG REGIO) to clarify the way EU funding has been spent in relation to the building.
The total cost of the project is €60,000,000, with the state of Lower Saxony contributing €21,000,000 and the European Union contributing €12,480,000.
The building is due for completion in August 2015.
The statement below is from Leuphana University:
Allegations of Unlawful Acceptance of Benefits by Daniel Libeskind Unsubstantiated
Lüneburg. Leuphana University of Lüneburg unequivocally rejects all allegations of irregularities in the award procedure in relation to Daniel Libeskind and reimbursements of services rendered by him and his office. According to the university’s legal interpretation those accusations are groundless and irresponsible. We also wish to state that we are extremely appreciative of Daniel Libeskind’s contributions to the work of the university.
Contrary to recent media coverage of an as yet unreleased and confidential report prepared by OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, neither Mr. Libeskind nor his office received any unlawful payments.
"We categorically refute these allegations", stated university spokesperson Henning Zühlsdorff. He added that, following the university's instigation of legal proceedings against numerous members of the press, many of them have already agreed to issue retractions or corrections.
The process of retaining and paying both Mr. Libeskind and his practice have been conducted in accordance with the law. For his work as a part-time professor at Leuphana University, Mr. Libeskind receives an annual salary of approximately 50.000 Euro pre-tax. Studio Daniel Libeskind, Mr. Libeskind’s architectural practice, was retained by the university solely to provide advice on the design of the new central university building.
Says Zühlsdorff: "Daniel Libeskind was not granted any unlawful advantages nor were competitors given a disadvantage."